She stared up at the man in front of her who had stopped so suddenly, a steady flow of sweat beginning to flow from his brow like rains across the meadows of her farm.
“You,..” he breathily said, “you will be a guiding light, a beacon for life, fertility and growth. Chauntea walks with you and her hand guides you on the path that will lead you to the light of day.” he said, his head turned to look at her, eyes rolled back to look towards the back of his skull. “But… This is not your fate, you will be a beacon of light and warmth amongst the darkness in the shadows after flying on the red, wooden dragon. Chauntea smiles on you child as you are the one to bring her light to the dark”
The man shivered blinked a few times before looking around “Oh, is there something on my face?” he asked sheepishly as he dabbed his white collared robe on his face “No? Hmm. Well how do I look?” he said, his bulbous nose the perfect accessory for his wide grin. “I’ve been told that I have potential to be a great seer you see and today is my test.” he looked up from the girl at the girls parents who were looking at him as if he was a venomous insect. Realisation struck “Oh, Tyr bless me. Did I reveal when your pet would die? no worse, when you will die. I am so sorry young child. Tyr blesses me with the truth and I the visions he sends me are rarely directed or controllable when they flow like a giant water snake flying down the river and I’m trying to hold on with a rope.” the man made a dramatic show of being dragged behind this invisible beast – grinning to himself as he did so. Elizabeth thought he should have been a bard rather than a cleric of Tyr but she could not shake the feeling of a light on the back of her hand guiding her, moving her forward towards where she needed to go. When the man shrugged, apologised and walked off again she turned around to her parents who looked down at her with a look that was equal parts fear and reverence.
As Lizbet ran to the figure on the ground she looked at the young man who was spread out, naked, deep slashes on his ribs that seemed to sprout a river of black moving under his skin and up his neck. Looking over at Katya she gripped her hand “I will need your strength here Katya if we are to save him. Why he is here and who he is does not matter. He is living but on the cusp of death if we don’t save him. To breathe life and light into this world is our duty as daughters of Chauntea and our powers, our divine magic that she blesses us with are to be used in her name to heal the sick and wounded.
Katya nodded and squeezed Lizbets hand – a warmth spread between them as she had felt when they had first met – kindred souls meeting, two daughters of Chauntea both equally blessed and loved by the deity of fertility, life and bounty. “Now follow me and repeat what I say” Lizbet said as she began to pray to Chauntea for healing, life, and the removal of blight and poison.
As the final words of their combined prayer left their lips – which Katya realised only too late that she was no longer following but speaking along with Lizbet, a golden glow pulsed forth from their palms that were either side of the naked mans chest, having rolled him onto his back to better access his torso. The glow spread through the mans body pushing back the rivers of black and a dark mist oozed forth from the wounds and seemed to combust into a golden flame as it almost reached towards the priestesses as their magic surged forth. The man beneath their touch wept as his face contorted in pain, screaming words that had no sound or meaning as a sweat drenched his brow. As the magic left his body he wept more muttering a single drawn out word before falling unconscious, “Siu…”
Siu woke in a bed with a fresh white linen tunic on. Turning his head he looked out the window to see that the sun was setting and looking down he was still in his human form, his magic still held but for how long he needed to find who had healed him.
“Feeling better then?” a voice said from behind him – turning she noticed the raven haired girl that had radiated the same magic as the priestess from yesterday. “Lizbet will be back shortly with some more dressings for your wound, despite our prayers we couldn’t heal it all – can you remember what happened to you?”
“how long” Siu said as he looked around for a place to hide.
“Pardon?” Katya asked a bit confused as Lizbet entered the room with some more bandages.
“How long since you found and healed me?” Siu asked, relief showing on his face when Lizbet reached the side of his bed.
“We found you at noon, it is now dusk.” Lizbet responded as she grabbed a damp cloth and gestured for him to sit down.
He had a bit over half a day left, he signed in relief and sadness as he stood from the bed, his magic infused body being the epitome of strength, grace and fortitude. The ability to revert to his human for was a gift from his master when he had saved his family in war once. The ability to return to his human self for one full day once every ten years.
“forgive me in advance for any deceptions you realise but I have grave tidings” he said as he knelt and prostrated before them “I have a warning that I have to give to you” he spoke his voice stressing his urgency.
“Come now sir, you and we are safe here in this temple. If you could just stand..” she grunted as she tried to lift him “Katya I don’t believe we purged all the poison, or disease. What ever it was from last time – I will lead you in another prayer and we will try and cure his delirium” Lizbet said tugging on Siu’s arm trying to get him to stand.
“That was not poison but shadow from a fell beast – a beast of shadow that has possessed the body of a creature, in my instance a cat” Siu said as he knelt before the priestesses.
Katya laughed “A creature of shadow…” she began before seeing a look of genuine concern on Lizbet’s face.
“Logan!” she called out and a moment later a brother of their temple appeared next to them.,
“yes Lady Lizbet?” he asked, Logan was a warm hearted man and his smile spoke of compassion and years of service.
“Can you go and find the adventurers who saved this city from the Shadow-mist creature, and rescued Lady Katya.. I fear we are not able to let them rest just yet..” she sighed.
“Mr.. What did you say your name was?”
“Siu…” Siu began but he winced as the painful memories flooded his mind of his cousin. “My name is… Siu..” he said, a tear streaking down his face “I am a servant of the Dragon protector of my family and I need to warn you. The fell beasts are forming an army and I believe they are after your light – with it gone the darkness in my home land across the sea will be complete and the rot and discord will spread through that land and the next until all are consumed.” Siu winced, lying was not something he condoned but a half lie, such as this, only caused him moderate amounts of pain and guilt. It may add a year or dozen onto his sentence but if his plan worked then the years may not be relevant soon any way.
“A light.. amongst the darkness” Lizbet mumbled – her memory flashing back to the prophecy from the wondering cleric of Tyr. “Katya, we have much to prepare for. You will find mother matron in her room, ask her to bring the codex. I only hope that Siu, ” she paused staring into his golden irises “is wrong and we wont need the knowledge within but after this past month I am not sure what to expect any more.” she sighed as she finally convinced Siu to stand and sit on the bed again.
“Tell me what you know” she asked Siu as Katya ran off.
Siu sighed, here goes nothing “A dark mist on every street, creatures stalking in the shadows controlled by shadow and magic and you two,” he nodded towards the hastily departing Katya, “were their obvious prey”.